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Free Poetry Workshop Weekend - A Poetry Pilgrimage with George Szirtes, Theresa Lola, Romalyn Ante and Bohdan Piasecki

14 October 2020

A Poetry Pilgrimage
In response to the 400-year anniversary of the Mayflower sailing from the UK, ArtfulScribe, in partnership with Winchester Poetry Festival, offers a weekend of poetry workshops led by poets who’ve made their homes in England from countries including Hungary, Nigeria, The Philippines, and Poland. George SzirtesTheresa LolaRomalyn Ante and Bohdan Piasecki will explore themes such as journeys, new beginnings, identity and belonging, in a series of ninety-minute Zoom sessions on the 14th and 15th November. 
A crowd-sourced poetry reading on the theme of ‘Giving Thanks’ is also featured on this weekend of poetry activities. 
All events are free to attend and priority access will be given to people from Southampton and SO post-codes. 
Thanks to Arts Council England, Southampton City Council, and other project partners for supporting these workshops and readings.
Sat 14th November 10.00 -11.30 am– Identity (Children and Young People) – Bohdan Piasecki

In this workshop, aimed at 11-18 year-olds, we'll forget the accurate and look for the true instead, all by making use of poetry's unlimited special effects budget. We'll look at influences from movie trailers to sports commentary, from super-villain monologues to nature documentaries to try and find a new way to write the best versions of ourselves. Really, this is a workshop to help us find and share joy in who we are. 

Participants will try several writing approaches and explore performance techniques to finish with a full piece shared with the rest of the group.
For booking information, please click here.
Sat 14th November 1.00-2.30 pm – Journeys – Theresa Lola
In this open access workshop, open to anyone over 16,  we will be exploring the journeys we go through in life, physical and emotional, that lead us to discovery and shift something in us, affect us. We’ll be looking at how to write poems that navigate with mystery while revealing the lessons from the journeys we take.
For booking information, please click here.

Saturday 14th November 3.30-5.00 pm – False Starts and Turning Points – Bohdan Piasecki
This workshop, aimed at anyone over 16, will focus on turning points, restarts, mulligans, and do-overs. We'll go looking together for stories which take a turn, start anew, or suddenly take on new meanings when set in a different context. We will look for inspiration in existing texts and stories we share from our own lives - and zero in on ways to introduce the all important return to square one into poetry as we draft our own stories of new beginnings.

The workshop will present several examples of 'new beginnings' in poetry (both in text and in performance),  and create space for personal storytelling. We can glean inspiration and steal any techniques which might be useful as we move on to drafting new poems about beginning again. 
For booking information, please click here.
Sat 14th November 7.00-9.30 pm – Giving Thanks: A Poetry Exchange – Matthew McNaught

You are invited to a poetry exchange on a theme: GIVING THANKS. Bring a poem that you like, by any living or dead poet, which is related (however tangentially) to the theme. The only restriction: the poem must be written by someone other than yourself. The event will be held over Zoom on Saturday November 14th, from 7 until 9.30.

Each person will read (or recite by heart) their chosen poem, and will have the opportunity to share some thoughts about it -- what you found interesting or pleasing, its personal significance. Others may contribute further reflections, and we might ask to hear the poem a second time. In this way, we will move around the circle until everyone has shared their poem. In a different age, we would be gathered in a room, and there would be wine and/or tea etc. You’ll provide your own drinks but the atmosphere of conviviality will hopefully remain.

Please RSVP to and let us know your choice of poem. To take part as an audience member, please click here.

The theme, GIVING THANKS, can be interpreted however you like. You might choose an ode, the traditional praise form. It might praise a person, a season, a household object (Sharon Olds, in her collection 'Odes', shows the sheer variety of things to be praised). You might choose a poem about gratitude, or simply a poem whose existence you are thankful for. If you’re stuck for ideas, here’s a whole bunch of odes:
Sunday 15th November 10.00-11.30 am – Belonging – George Szirtes
What does it mean to belong? To what? To whom? Is it of comfort to belong to a nation, a community, an organisation, a group with this or that cause, a family, a relationship, or anything else? When do we first feel the sense of belonging? What obligations does belonging impose on us and what do we welcome? Do others feel that obligation to us or should we feel it to others? Which others? Above all, how might poetry express a sense of belonging? Do anthems of various sorts perform that task? And what is the opposite of belonging? Is it the sense of exclusion? The excluding of others or our own sense of being excluded?

These are complex questions and there are plenty more waiting behind them, as always. But how to go about the task?

We could recall our own experiences of belonging or exclusion. We could use a variety of pronouns beyond the central 'I'. What difference would it make if used the first person plural 'we'?  We could speak for others using 'I' or 'we' or we could speak for ourselves using the third person singular or plural, or a proper name, or even the second person 'you'. What difference would it make to use any of these pronouns as voices.

Be prepared to bring along your memories, visual sources of either a personal or social kind, and a news item, a quotation or a poem that seems interesting or offers a starting point.

This workshop is open to anyone over 16.

This is a place of exploration and shaping. Let's see what there is to explore, and what shapes it offers us.

For booking information, please click here.
Sunday 15th November 2.00-3.30 pm – New Beginnings: A Fresh Start – Romalyn Ante
'Every exit is an entry somewhere else.' Tom Stoppard 

The psychology of new beginnings has been an important aspect of change and personal enhancement. New beginnings and new places usually mean a chance for you to be better, a metamorphosis to happen. In this 90 minute workshop, we will look at how the magic of travelling and new beginnings permeate through poetry and influence the speaker's narrative. We will look at urban and rural landscapes' language and imagery to strengthen the sense of place in our poetry. We will read the works of Marjorie Evasco, Sonia Sanchez, Suji Kwock Kim, Sarah Howe, and others, to learn how language and metaphors can help us re-imagine our life journeys and explore their meaning.

This workshop is open to anyone over 16.

For booking information, please click here.
About Mayflower 400 Southampton
Southampton’s Mayflower 400 is led by Southampton City Council and is delivered with cultural, corporate and community partners all across the City. The year will focus on the themes of journeys, migration, maritime heritage and innovation. It seeks to celebrate the city and those who live and work here, it will explore the stories of all the people of the world, including the Mayflower passengers, who have come to, or through, Southampton in search of a new life.

Matching grassroots activity with major projects, the city’s creativity and heritage will be showcased through a series of culture, learning and community programmes. The programme is delivered with the financial support of Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Barker Mills Foundation, GO! Southampton and Paris Smith.

Originally planned for June to November, plans are currently being reshaped so that (subject to Public Health England/ Government guidance) there is still an exciting and engaging programme of activities between August 2020 and February 2021.

Go to for further information on events and stories. Further press information on Mayflower 400 Southampton available from Nick Upton, Senior Communications Officer, Southampton City Council:
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ArtfulScribe · 27 Pointout Close, Southampton, United Kingdom · Southampton, Hampshire SO16 7DL · United Kingdom 

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